I’ve been patiently waiting for a day that didn’t feature torrential rain and/or howling gales to take the photos for my November tree following post. Finally! Blue skies, still air, perfect. Rounding the corner to take the first photo, as expected, revealed a leafless hawthorn.


The beauty of this time of year is that the structure, the architecture, of the tree becomes clear. I love the gnarled ends to the branches.


The bare branches form some fantastical shapes. I’m sure they wouldn’t look as good against a grey sky, but on a day like today they form wonderful pictures.


Of course, some of that structural interest is caused by crossing branches, of the kind you are always advised to prune out of ornamental shrubs and trees to prevent rubbing and the resulting damage. I think it is a little late to try that with this hawthorn…


I’ve noticed that some of the lovely lichen that had been decorating the lower branches seems to have disappeared. I had to crane and stretch to get this photo of lichen on a higher branch.


I was surprised to see how many berries are still lingering. They pepper the branches, very occasionally, like miserly Christmas Tree decorations.


They show up wonderfully well against the blue sky, which makes me wonder why no birds have eaten them. Must be better eating elsewhere?


I got a little distracted, while searching for more good shots of berries against blue skies. Some of the many (many!) crows that appear in the park were sat on the branches of a neighboring willow, preening themselves in the warm sunshine.


I found myself diverting my lens from the hawthorn in an attempt to capture better photos of the crow grooming. These look headless…


My attempts to capture a good shot of them pecking at their feathers, one that showed head and beak, proved a dismal failure. All I gained was a cricked neck. I did manage to capture this one using its leg instead of its beak. Sort of.


This pair was rather cute – not a word a usually associate with crows – as they were grooming one another.


Anyway, back to the hawthorn! The bare branches reveal the stark contrast between the dead ivy strands from the “helpful” pruning by our neighbour and the lush healthy growth of the still-living ivy on the adjacent branch.


There’s even new growth still appearing on the ivy! I wonder how long it will be before the dead growth is covered by new living vines. Is “vines” the right term? Twining stems? Well, you get the picture…


So that’s my hawthorn in November. I don’t imagine that it will change much now, not until the new growth starts to appear again next Spring. I am curious to see what happens to the lichens though. Will they re-grow over the winter months? Or will the lower branches remain comparatively bare?

Thanks again to Lucy for hosting this very addictive tree-following meme, do check out the links to other trees around the globe.

45 thoughts on “Tree Following: My Hawthorn in November

  1. An enjoyable and interesting tree following post, with wonderful pictures.
    My plot hawthorn still has it’s leaves but they are now changing colour. xx

    1. Hi Flighty, I am always slightly surprised at how different our two hawthorns are, but there again the growing conditions are totally different too! Enjoy the changing leaves, mine were all gone in moments, it feels, with little opportunity to enjoy the mellow yellow.

  2. You couldn’t have chosen a better day to share your Hawthorn with us Janet. The blue skies really do show it off.
    I like the fact that the Ivy adds a bit of interest in winter. The hawthorn I planted last spring is dutifully holding onto a few leaves but sadly, no berries.

    1. Hi Angie, hard to beat a blue sky, isn’t it! I wonder how long it will take your newly planted hawthorn to start producing berries – and wonderfully gnarly branch ends.

    1. It is rather packed with character, isn’t it, it reminds me of one of those wonderfully wrinkled tanned faces that they use to advertise holidays in Greece sometimes, you know, the bent old man in shirtsleeves or elderly woman draped in black.

  3. it is nice to get a break in the wind and rain Janet, long may it last …………… she writes hopefully,
    I love seeing larger trees with bare branches against a blue sky, the tracery of the branches and twigs is lovely, your hawthorn has some lovely twisting branches, I suppose I should look over my trees during winter and cut those crossing branches while the trees are still young, I’m sure if the birds get hungry enough those last berries will go, strange what happened to the lichen, Frances

    1. Hello Frances, we’ve been luckier than forecast this past couple of days, fewer and shorter showers, and still very warm for the time of year. The ground is sodden though. Yes, a little tree pruning on a nice day sounds like a good plan, I always find it really satisfying pruning trees, you know you are helping out a long-lived friend rather than just hacking back a perennial.

  4. Your Hawthorn is wonderfully gnarly and full of character and I love the shot of the crows grooming each other. Your birds must be hungry, the Hawthorns here are laden with a bumper crop of berries this year and still quite a lot of leaves about. Did you have lots of berries earlier on?

    1. Hi Julie, I rather envy you your bounty of berries, very few left round here, either very hungry birds or too much wind!

  5. Great tree! I liked what you said about the pruning. Plus, what would happen in nature if no one pruned it? It would look twisted and interesting like it does now! Sometimes humans prune too much, I think. The animals, insects, birds, and other visitors probably prefer its natural state. Thanls for sharing some great views and information about your Hawthorne this year!

    1. I agree about too much pruning Beth, though when branches rub I tend to think pruning is necessary for health. My hawthorn doesn’t seem to care though, and I am quite sure the birds and insects don’t! In fact the crossing branches might provide better nesting opportunities, not that I have seen signs of birds nesting in the hawthorn as yet.

  6. Looks like it is a really beautiful day with you, today it is WET again here and dark with heavy cloud. But it was lovely at the weekend so I can’t complain. Love the Hawthorn branches against the blue sky.

    1. Hi Christina, its been rather more “intermittent” on the blue skies front since I took those photos. And the ground is still very wet, even the well drained front garden. Hope you get more clear skies than low dark clouds, the latter always make me feel rather oppressed.

  7. It would seem that you have an ENT there! Do you ever go out and chat with him/her about the important problems of the world? Better than climbing some mountaintop in Nepal. The shape of this tree is exquisite, and i even like the rascal crows. As annoying as they can be, you can’t deny their intelligence and that is a delight to watch. Lovely, evocative tree.

    1. Hello Susan, I have to admit to not talking to my mini “Ent”, maybe I should try it! I love watching the crows, they may sound harsh but they are fun to watch, always interacting with one another and they don’t seem to fight much, which I like. So noisy though!

  8. Your hawthorn is fantastic with all its crossing stems, a natural piece of sculpture. What a beautiful blue sky you had to set it all off, couldn’t be better!

    1. Hi Pauline, it was perfect, I hope to have more days like that as winter sets in, perhaps with a bit of snow or frost to emphasize the architecture of those wonderful twisted branches?

    1. Me too Sue, the more characterful the better, which is why I thought I would love growing twisted hazel – but I hated the leaves!

  9. well you picked a good day to feature the Hawthorn – naked as a jaybird and clothed in crows! Its the rub of criss-crossing branches with self or neighbouring tree that gives us the magic of inosculation and the marriage tree. Perhaps we gardeners are a bit too prissy about plants – they seem to manage without us.

    1. Hi Laura, Beth said the same, I do sometimes wonder whether we miss a trick with too-tidy pruning. And there is the trend for “naturalistic” planting, perhaps another sign that we yearn for a hint of wildness in our too-ordered lives.

  10. Janet how beastly your weather sounds…glad you had some sun so we could see your tree clearly…what beautiful structure and I love all the gnarling of the branches….really quite beautiful and so interesting. You are quite lucky to have this tree.

    1. Hi Donna, I agree, I am lucky to have the hawthorn, though I hadn’t really appreciated that until I started following it for Lucy’s meme.

  11. I like gnarled and twisted branches like that. Love the crow pictures! We have a family visiting every morning – noisy but somehow nice!

    1. Hi Cathy, I must admit I am rather fond of the crows, they seem quite good humoured birds, and I enjoy their noisy chatter.

  12. How beautiful your hawthorn is – what an excellent voice that proved to be. The shapes formed by the branches are very graphic, though I’m sure you’re right and the blue sky helps!

    1. Blue sky always helps! I meant to see what those gnarly branches looked like in monochrome but I’ve not got around to it yet…

  13. Yes, lovely to see all this criss crossing against the gorgeous blue sky. I am wondering if I heard that hawthorn are not particularly tasty and the birds go for other things first, but that could be something else – they certainly don’t look very tasty, all seed and no flesh. I have no idea about the lichen but I hope someone else will solve the mystery!

    1. I hadn’t heard that about hawthorn, seems to contradict them being such a good plant for wildlife!!

  14. Oh your hawthorn has a weird and wonderful skeleton Janet especially under such a blue sky. I think those crows were eyeing up the remaining berries and were willing you to disappear post haste.

    1. Hello Anna, the crows seem to view my entire garden with utter disdain, they sit in the surrounding trees chattering (I think they are critical garden designers) but very rarely actually visit, so maybe they just intimidate the smaller birds who would otherwise eat the hawthorn berries?!

  15. That Hawthorn is wonderfully contorted and nubby. Wonder how old it is? I have some very small Hawthorn in my woods….about 2 to 3 feet tall. The berries remain a long time in the winter. I am not sure if the birds like them or if squirrels or other animals eat them.

    1. I’ve no idea how old my hawthorn is, old enough to have developed strong character, thats for sure. Interesting that you find the berries linger on yours, most of those around here are bare now, I still have a few left on mine even now.

  16. I don’t know what it is about those remaining berries. The same thing happens here. I suppose it’s because they look like Christmas Tree decorations that they seem so special. I sense the true star of this post though – is the sky!

    1. Hi Lucy, yes, the sky really is the star, blue skies seem all the more precious at this time of year, it is so often so very grey, blue skies are worthy of a little jig! And they do set of the gnarly architecture of trees rather beautifully.

  17. I guess at the first cold snap any remaining berries will soon be gobbled up? (But then that might sound as if I knew what I was talking about). I know most people dislike crows – the builder who has been carrying out various jobs about the Priory happily shoots them and would like to shoot some of ‘mine’ were I to let him. But I like crows – they’re intelligent, engrossing to watch and, I think, handsome birds. Dave

    1. I like the image of you playing crow protector!! I enjoy the crows. Berries are indeed now all gone, hopefully to birds rather than the gales!

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